In times of Coronavirus: UBI is an idea whose time has finally come

In times of Coronavirus: UBI is an idea whose time has finally come

The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income. … We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.

Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1968)

We hope this email finds you, and all those you care for, safe and well.

Many of us also have family, friends and colleagues in many different parts of the world and, coupled with the ever rising number of cases here in the UK/Europe/USA, the news about the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the global south, for many of us, will be even more worrying.

It is becoming more apparent with every passing day that the Coronavirus pandemic is holding a mirror up to every single aspect of human life and activity and that this scrutiny leaves much of humanity’s 21st century day to day behaviour sorely wanting. The ultimate damning evidence of this is the millions upon millions of our fellow sisters and brothers in the global south who don’t even have access to the basic protective shield of soap and water as this pandemic rages across the globe.

It’s not as if we didn’t know the system was long broken. We did. The evidence has been piling up for years and years. However, global inequality and the unstoppable ascendency of the tax evading greedy 1%; the harm of agribusiness and factory farming at one end and illegal poaching at the other; big pharma’s monopolies and the erosion of the primacy of publicly funded healthcare and research; and finally, ultimately, climate catastrophe; none of this was enough to force the hands of the political class, financial and corporate sectors to change course and ‘do the right thing’.
Continue reading

£280bn Global Arms Sales in 2016

Global sales of weapons and military services have risen for the first time in five years, helped in part by an increase in sales by British companies.

Weapons – many of which are fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East – are now being bought and sold at the highest level since 2010, with sales up more than a third (38 per cent) since 2002.

Military kit worth $374.8bn (£280bn) was sold in 2016 by the industry’s top 100 companies, an annual review by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) found.

The findings came as UK firm BAE Systems signed a $6.7bn deal with Qatar to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets.

British arms sales rose 2 per cent last year and now amount to almost 10 per cent of global sales, researchers found.

Germany’s arms sales jumped 6.6 per cent while South Korean companies notched up 20 per cent more sales than a year earlier. …

Sales by Lockheed Martin – the world’s largest arms producer – rose by 10.7 per cent in 2016, the report found, linked to the sale of F-35 combat aircraft. Continue reading

New report on securitisation of aid

  • Syria case may be ‘tip of the iceberg’ for fund backing some of world’s worst security forces
  • Secretive Conflict, Stability and Security Fund uses £500m of aid money
  • Government accused of using loophole to fund discredited consultancy

The controversial cross-government fund behind the British aid project in Syria which has today been suspended amid claims that money was reaching jihadist groups should be shut down, according to campaign group Global Justice Now, which has released a new report on the fund.

The report lifts the lid on one of the British government’s most secretive funds, which is behind military and security projects in around 70 countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Nigeria. The billion-pound pot, known as the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, spends over £500 million of British aid and is overseen by the National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister. Neither the public nor MPs are able to properly scrutinise the fund due to a serious lack of transparency, the report finds.
Continue reading

Interactive Map: European weapons and Refugees

Valuable resource from Centre Delàs:

Interactive map « European weapons and refugees »

The purpose of this interactive map is to highlight the link between European arms export and flows of refugees and internally displaced persons, in order to determine whether there is any direct or indirect responsibility of EU Member States for situations of insecurity and violence that drive millions of people to flee their homes every year.

A second objective of this tool is to stress their (ir)responsibility in European arms export authorization or realization as well as their inadequate compliance of the existing legislation, established by the Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of December 8, 2008, which sets up 22 weapons categories including ammunition, light weapons, aircraft and warships, military transport vehicles and all types of military technology for military purposes. On the basis of the criteria set out in the Common Position, the relationship between the European legislation on arms export and situations of insecurity leading to movements of refugees and displaced persons can be established.

http://www.centredelas.org/en/database/arms-trade/interactive-map-arms-trade-and-refugees

More than 100 F-35s in service can’t fight

The U.S. military has signaled that it might cancel essential upgrades for more than 100 early model F-35 stealth fighters flown by the Air Force, rendering the radar-evading jets incompatible with many of the latest weapons.

In that case, some 6 percent of the flying branch’s planned 1,700-strong F-35 fleet would be unfit for combat, sticking U.S. taxpayers with a $20 billion tab for fighters… that can’t fight. Continue reading

The Pentagon’s use of private contractors adds to a legacy of environmental damage

The military is one of the country’s largest polluters, with an inventory of toxic sites on American soil that once topped 39,000. At many locations, the Pentagon has relied on contractors like U.S. Technology to assist in cleaning and restoring land, removing waste, clearing unexploded bombs, and decontaminating buildings, streams and soil. In addition to its work for Barksdale, U.S. Technology had won some 830 contracts with other military facilities — Army, Air Force, Navy and logistics bases — totaling more than $49 million, many of them to dispose of similar powders. Continue reading

Total world military expenditure rose to $1686 billion in 2016

Military spending in North America saw its first annual increase since 2010, while spending in Western Europe grew for the second consecutive year.

World military expenditure rose for a second consecutive year to a total of $1686 billion in 2016—the first consecutive annual increase since 2011 when spending reached its peak of $1699 billion.* Trends and patterns in military expenditure vary considerably between regions. Spending continued to grow in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe and North Africa. By contrast, spending fell in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East (based on countries for which data is available), South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
Continue reading

Calling North Korea ‘crazy’ won’t help with anything

Trump’s North Korea policy will reportedly focus more on pressuring Beijing to constrain North Korea, and on additional sanctions.

Two things to keep in mind: don’t underestimate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and don’t forget South Korea. …

Kim’s desire for deterrence – to not end up like Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi – helps explain the existence of its weapons program. Someone who has participated in more than a decade of Track 2 dialogues with the North Koreans once recounted to me how North Koreans asked them: “Would the Americans have gone in and done what they did to Gaddaffi, and to Syria, if they had what we have?’ Continue reading

Rather than cutting foreign aid, Trump should be cutting these instead

If President Trump really feels the need to cut foreign aid, he should take a close look at the Pentagon’s “shadow” security assistance programs — programs that are buried deep in the department’s budget, where they are largely shielded from scrutiny by the news media, the public and most members of Congress.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon has created dozens of new arms and training programs within its own budget, at a cost of about $10 billion per year, in support of activities in more than 130 countries, according to the Security Assistance Monitor. This is small change by Pentagon standards, but more than three times the value of the domestic programs that are on the White House’s “hit list,” including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, and funding for Planned Parenthood, Legal Services, AmeriCorps and the Export-Import Bank. Continue reading

Trump’s Military Budget Doesn’t Add Up

And while Trump says increased military spending will reassert America’s strength, the United States already is the world’s 800-pound gorilla. In 2015, it was responsible for more than one third of all military spending on the planet. China and Russia, the United States’ main military competitors, don’t even come close.

Trump’s budget plans also feature drastic cuts to international and environmental spending. He’s reportedly pushing for a 24 percent cut to the EPA budget and a 37 percent cut to the State Department and USAID budget. While such reductions would have profound effects on these agencies, they are a drop in the bucket compared with the Pentagon budget. In 2016, the Department of State and USAID received an estimated $50.6 billion, or 1.3 percent of all federal spending. The EPA received $8.3 billion, or 0.2 percent of all federal spending. Meanwhile, the Pentagon got 15 percent.
Continue reading

Trump put budget in a muddle with big military spending increase

“I don’t know how you take $54 billion out without wholesale taking out entire departments,” said Bill Hoagland, a longtime Republican budget aide in the Senate and now a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “You need to control it in the area of the entitlement programs, which he’s taken off the table. It is a proposal, I dare say, that will be dead on arrival even with a Republican Congress.” Continue reading

Trump is continuing the trend of ever-increasing military spending

WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, he committed truth: He said it’s one of the largest military budget increases in history—about 10 percent, $54 billion, which, to put it in perspective, would be about what the United Kingdom spends—just the increase. That would be the seventh biggest military budget in the world. And, of course, we’re spending at historic levels, $600 billion a year, which is more than the peak of Reagan. The Obama years, we spent more than under George W. Bush. So the idea that there’s a gap in military spending is ludicrous. He hasn’t talked about tens of billion dollars in Pentagon waste. And, of course, he hasn’t said how he’s going use the military, other than rattling sabers about Iran, which, were they to go to war with Iran, as one person said, would be—make Iraq look like a walk in the park. So, I think the money is problematic, but also kind of the reckless possibilities of how they might use the military.
Continue reading

Trump’s new budget is his war on public services

As The New York Times first reported, Trump’s newly confirmed budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, has assembled a “hit list” of agencies and programs to eliminate. Current candidates include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities; Legal Services Corporation; and AmeriCorps. And Trump—no doubt egged on by Mike Pence—has pledged to cut the more than $500 million in funding to Planned Parenthood…

The proposed cuts have everything to do with right-wing ideology and nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. All of the programs slated for closing provide essential public services. All of the programs slated for closure, plus the proposed Planned Parenthood cuts, cost the federal government a combined total of about $3 billion per year. That grand totally amounts to one-half of one percent of, the current Pentagon budget, now runs at about $600 billion per year. And that’s before Trump’s pledge to throw an additional $1 trillion at that bloated department over the next ten years. Continue reading

Investment in Health promotes while investment in Defense inhibits economic growth

Using cross-national fixed effects models covering 25 EU countries from 1995 to 2010, we quantified fiscal multipliers both before and during the recession that began in 2008.

We found that the multiplier for total government spending was 1.61 (95% CI: 1.37 to 1.86), but there was marked heterogeneity across types of spending. The fiscal multipliers ranged from −9.8 for defence (95% CI: -16.7 to −3.0) to 4.3 for health (95% CI: 2.5 to 6.1). These differences appear to be explained by varying degrees of absorption of government spending into the domestic economy. Defence was linked to significantly greater trade deficits (β = −7.58, p=0.017), whereas health and education had no effect on trade deficits (peducation=0.62; phealth= 0.33).

Continue reading

Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion administrative waste

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. …

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology. Continue reading

Trump’s exercise in fantasy budgeting

At one point, there were something like 1,000 installations in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, from bases large enough to be small American towns to tiny combat outposts.  In 2015, there were at least 800 significant U.S. bases in foreign countries (and more small camps and places where U.S. military equipment was pre-positioned for future use).  No great power, not even Britain at its imperial height, had ever had such a global military “footprint,” such an “empire of bases,” and yet in this country it was as if no one noticed, as if it were of no importance at all.


Let’s start with a baseline look at the Pentagon’s finances at this moment.  At $600 billion-plus per year, the government is already spending more money on the Pentagon than it did at the peak of the massive military buildup President Ronald Reagan initiated in the 1980s.  In fact, despite what you might imagine, the Obama administration has pumped more tax dollars into the military in its two terms than did George W. Bush. According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. currently spends four times what China does and 10 times what the Russians sink into their military. Continue reading

SIPRI: extended military expenditure data

SIPRI is proud to announce the online release of its extended military expenditure data. Previously, the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database covered the period 1988–2015; the extended military expenditure data goes back in most cases at least to the 1960s, and in some cases to 1949.

The new data highlights long-term trends in military spending. In the case of the USA, clear peaks in spending can be seen during the Korean War, the ‘Reagan build-up’ and the more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Western Europe, military spending rose steadily during the cold war, while in Africa, military spending has surged in recent decades as the continent’s economies have improved.
Continue reading

“In the long run, the Pentagon budget won’t go down.”

Take the current budget. It’s down slightly from its peak in 2011, when it reached the highest level since World War II, but this year’s budget for the Pentagon and related agencies is nothing to sneeze at. It comes in at roughly $600 billionmore than the peak year of the massive arms buildup initiated by President Ronald Reagan back in the 1980s. To put this figure in perspective: Despite troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan dropping sharply over the past eight years, the Obama administration has still managed to spend more on the Pentagon than the Bush administration did during its two terms in office. Continue reading